Family vacation? Yes, please!

Costa Rica is a great country to travel to if you’re bringing the little ones. It’s safe, it’s warm, it’s connected enough to the first world that you and your kids can enjoy what’s different about it without being completely out of your element. Some of their favorite cartoons may be in Spanish which they may find amusing, but Costa Rica is not completely disconnected from the comforts of home.

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Tamarindo, specifically, is a fantastic place for families. Of course, the older your youngsters are, the more they will be able to participate in the “adventure tours” that make Tamarindo famous. It is for this reason that this post addresses, specifically, kid-friendly spots and activities for the really little ones–like toddlers and preschoolers.


Tamarindo’s most kid-friendly stretch of beach is at the southern end of the bay. Which end is south? Consider that if we’re on the Pacific coast (and we are!), the ocean is west and the land is east. We think you can take it from there.

Locals refer to this small-waved and sandy stretch of beach as Captian Suizo, which is the name of the beautiful boutique hotel that is located there.  Stop in for lunch or grab a few cold drinks while you’re down there.  The beach in front of Capitan Suizo tends to be the most protected from the wind at windy times of year, and it also has the smallest waves and the least currents.  You should feel free to take your kids to the beach anywhere in Tamarindo, but the winner of the kid-friendly contest is definitely Capitan Suizo.

If your Tamarindo hotel or Tamarindo vacation rental is in Langosta, check out the tide pools.  The beach in Langosta is rockier than the beach in Tamarindo, so make sure that for Langosta your little ones have reef shoes.  Langosta’s waves are bigger and stronger than Tamarindo’s but the tide pools are warm and clear and can be a great place to splash, play, and look for little fish and crabs.

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A word to the wise:

Do not let your kids play in the estuaries.  True, there are no waves, but there are currents and there are crocodiles.  Don’t do it.


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If you’re looking for cute Costa Rica t-shirts, lots of stores have them.  If you’re looking for beach stuff and/or kid stuff, Monkey ‘N Croc is the pick.  You can grab an inexpensive lightweight boogie board there that the kiddos can enjoy in the pool or in the ocean as long as you keep an eye on them.  Monkey ‘N Croc stocks lots of toys and games including inflatable flotation toys and devices and toys as souvenirs and clothes.  It’s right in the center of Tamarindo below the Santa Rita Cafe.  Great spot for breakfast or lunch, by the way!



Photo credit: //tamarindodailyphoto.blogspot.com

La Baula Pizzaria wins hands-down because the back section of the restaurant is an outdoor playground with picnic tables.

El Mercadito

Is an open-air gourmet food court and is a great spot for families for two reasons:

  1.  They have a small playground in the seating area.
  2. There are a dozen independent kitchens each offering their specialty, from sushi to pizza to hamburgers, so everybody gets to have their favorite thing for dinner.  And don’t despair, parents!  The Medusa bar in the center of the court has cold beer and creative cocktails.

Breakfast Grinds/The Jolly Roger

Right beside Iguana Surf across from the beach, this spot is Breakfast Grinds by day (American breakfasts and lunches) and The Jolly Roger by night (20 kinds of chicken wings, and burgers).  The kids’ play area doesn’t include a playground, but there is a kid corner where the littles ones can sit at small tables and entertain themselves.


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Tamarindo’s most kid-friendly tour is the Tamarindo estuary tour.  It’s inexpensive, and you’re never too old or too young to explore the Las Baulas estuary in a boat.  Birds, monkeys, and crocodiles are common sights during the estuary tour which usually takes about 2 hours.  Big kids will love it too.


At about age 8, lots of other tour options become available for kids.  Kids can ride horses or ATVs with a parent, can probably enjoy a half-day fishing trip, and are old enough to go on a zip-line canopy tour accompanied by a guide.  And surf lessons!  There’s no specific age for surf lessons–that will depend upon your family and your child.



CRSurf.com offers free Tamarindo tide tables.  Check it out.  Why?  Because after you haul your family and all your stuff to the beach, it’s worth it to know whether the tide is going in or out or take a Tamarindo surf lesson.  An incoming tide can soak your stuff and take off with your flip-flops before you know it, so stay a step ahead of the game.  Know what to expect.

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Don’t bring the kitchen sink on your vacation.  Costa Rica is just around the corner from the first world.  We have American-style grocery stores and several pharmacies in town.  You might not find your favorite brand of your favorite everything, but basically:  you can buy stuff here.  After-sun gel, after-bug-bite cream, cough medicine, Pepto Bismol, band-aids, salves of all types, Tylenol, baby sunscreen, bug spray…you name it.  It’s impossible for you to bring everything you could possibly imagine needing, so don’t worry about it.  If you need it, get it here.  Our Guest Coordinator or our Concierge can help you find whatever it is that you’re looking for.


Really.  Between the wind and the waves, the more stuff you haul to the beach to entertain the little ones, the more stuff you have to keep track of.  You’ll be amazed at how entertaining simple sand is for little ones.  Collect seashells.  (But please put them back–the beach needs them in order to keep being a beach.)

Our Reservationists, our Guest Coordinator, and our Concierge are all committed to making sure that families have a safe and delightful time in Tamarindo.  Contact us and let us help you choose the best vacation rental for your family and plan the kid-friendliest tropical get-away you ever imagined.

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